Sustainability and Construction: A Study of the Transition to Sustainable Construction Practices in Nigeria

Esezobor, Emmanuel Love (2016) Sustainability and Construction: A Study of the Transition to Sustainable Construction Practices in Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Sustainability is one of the most important challenges of our time. In the 21st century, it has become a central issue for debate about development at local, national and international levels. The concept of sustainability is now seen as an integral part of policy reforms in many countries because of the potential for detrimental impacts of certain practices on the environment and society. Within the construction sector, there is a growing interest in the ethos of sustainable development. However, it is unclear if most countries in western Africa share the same inclination, owing to the particular development needs and the challenges that these countries face. This present research explores the extent to which the construction companies in Nigeria takes into account and apply sustainability principles in project management activity, with the view to developing a strategy for change to improve sustainability practices.
The present research was conducted through case studies to increase our understanding of the current situation. Nine projects from three multinational construction companies were selected for study in four main geopolitical zones in Nigeria to ensure the diverse social-cultural and geographical demographic areas were represented. Data was collected through a combination of survey, interviews and documents to acquire comprehensive evidence for the research. This research was conducted in two stages; first, a survey was conducted to gain broad insight into the current practices and the ambition of the participating company to improve sustainability performance. A total of 204 questionnaires were studied using descriptive statistical analytical techniques. The outcome of the survey, guided the series of semi-structured interviews with 31 representatives of the middle and senior-management team from three different stakeholders groups – the clients, contractors and regulatory institutions. The interviews were designed to get an in-depth insight into the rationale for the current practices, as well as the barriers and opportunities for promoting a sustainable construction approach. Interview data were coded and analysed using Nvivo 10 data management software.
The research findings illustrate the complexity of sustainable construction in Nigeria, and the data reveal that performance of socio-environmental sustainability is low in the practices of many companies. Low sustainability performance is attributed to low levels of commitment by key stakeholders in the construction sector, such as the clients, construction companies and the regulatory agencies to sustainable principles; rather, they focus on quality and timely delivery. Stakeholders’ behaviour is intrinsically connected to their values, the nature of the construction system and their understanding of sustainable construction and this perception drives the operations and governance of construction activities in the industry. Furthermore, the inability of supporting institutions to develop and effectively implement sustainability regulations, coupled with political instability and security were also identified as barriers to sustainable practices in the industry. In view of the complexities of the Nigerian construction system, change towards sustainable practices
will require a systemic solution. This study identifies the various leverage points to improve sustainability practices in the construction industry. It utilizes dynamic multi-level system modelling for sustainability transition to create a methodology for a transition in construction practices in Nigeria, to migrate them the traditional ones towards a more sustainable approach.
Another point of leverage is the quality movement in the industry. The current quality management processes which have potential for more-coherent socio-environmental performance are limited at present because of the traditional focus on economic values. To explore this potential for improvement, the research findings were used to model a transition strategy by which the traditional, economic-led perspective of quality management can be broadened into one that is more environmentally and socially inclined. It describes how companies can adjust traditional quality management processes focused on economic values to become more-inclusive of social-environmental values. By adjusting the present economic-led quality management processes to embrace the latent socio-environmental values contained within it, the attainment of sustainable construction practices can be positively improved.
This study argues that the most significant point for change that would spread across the entire construction system is to renew the thinking upon which the present system is based. More thought and attention is needed to improve awareness and education of sustainable construction by focusing on the benefits of sustainable practices. This would result in a ‘value shift’ that would serve as a catalyst for change that would affect the entire construction system. Activities that will aid the shift include education, training, information on dangers of non-sustainable practices and the benefits of sustainability in construction, effective implementation of regulations, leadership commitment and development of capacity to support sustainable construction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This thesis is dedicated to God Almighty, who made it possible for me to accomplish this task. This work is also dedicated to my late parents Mr Pius and Mrs Catharine Esezobor for their love, care and invaluable advice which to date is shaping my daily life experience.
28 October 2016Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainability, Construction, Construction practices
Subjects: CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-02 - building
CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-04 - planning (urban, rural and regional)
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-04 - languages and area studies > CAH19-04-07 - African and modern Middle Eastern studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 16:09
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:41

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